The European Investment Bank (EIB) strengthened its support for research and development, strategic and sustainable infrastructure, and lending to SMEs at a Board of Directors meeting yesterday. The Bank approved new lending to a range of significant projects across Europe and beyond.

Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB, also used the opportunity to brief the Board on the Bank’s joint leadership of the taskforce set up following the informal ECOFIN meeting in Milan. The Task Force, co-chaired by the European Commission, is examining opportunities for investment in key projects to stimulate growth and jobs.

The EIB’s Board of Directors today approved loans worth EUR 8.4 billion, including EUR 2.9 billion that will benefit SMEs and mid-cap firms in the European Union. This brings total EIB support for SMEs and mid-cap companies approved so far in 2014 to EUR 13.1 billion.

Loans worth a total of EUR 3.4 billion were approved for investment in strategic infrastructure. This included support for transport projects in France, Spain and Greece, as well as telecommunications in Malta

Support for long-term investment in research and development included agreement to back research investment by universities and public research centres in Germany and the construction and renovation of secondary schools in France.

Sustainable investment for energy included approval of new connections to off-shore wind farms in UK waters and investment to modernise existing and construct new small hydropower plants in Italy.

The EIB’s Board of Directors includes representatives of all 28 member state shareholders of the bank and the European Commission. Loan approvals by the board represent an important milestone prior to final financial and legal negotiation where loan amounts may change.

The Board of Directors of the European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the EIB group, earlier this week approved 10 new operations through which the EIF will further reinforce its support for SMEs. These deals represent EIF commitments of EUR 271.5 million and are expected to leverage EUR 757 million of capital. With these new approvals, the number of deals approved in 2014 now amounts to 93, with commitments in the order of EUR 2.6 billion and an expected overall leverage of EUR 11.7 billion.